Massachusetts Gov. Baker orders non-essential businesses closed over virus

photo via Wikimedia Commons

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all nonessential businesses to close by Tuesday afternoon and remain closed until at least April 7 in an effort to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Republican governor also said Monday the state Department of Health has issued a stay-at-home advisory, but stressed that it wasn’t a shelter-in-place order.

“Everyone is advised to stay home and limit all unnecessary activities,” he said at a news conference. “We’re asking everyone to use their common sense, think about the impact this virus is having on the sick and elderly, and to limit their interactions with other people.”

He said it was OK to take a walk at the park while keeping appropriate social distancing, but advised against pickup basketball and touch football games, or other activities that bring people into close contact with others.

Essential businesses include supermarkets and the businesses that support them, pharmacies, gas stations, and manufacturers of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. Although medical marijuana facilities will be allowed to stay open, recreational pot shops are considered nonessential and must close, he said.

Restaurants will be allowed to stay open for takeout and delivery only.

There have been 646 positive cases of the coronavirus in Massachusetts and five deaths as of Sunday, public health officials said.

INMATES TEST POSITIVE

Three inmates at a Massachusetts prison have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials said.

The inmates at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater have been quarantined from the general population, authorities said. One officer at the prison has also reported testing positive and has been told to stay home and follow their doctor’s orders, they said.

The Massachusetts Treatment Center is a medium-security facility that houses people convicted of sex crimes and those who have been civilly committed as sexually dangerous persons.

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ABOUT THE VIRUS

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.